________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 3 . . . .September 28, 2007


A Monster Wrote Me a Letter.

Nick Bland.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2007.
32 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-439-93573-9.

Subject Headings:
Monsters-Juvenile fiction.
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.
Fantasy fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Ellen Wu.

*** /4



A monster wrote me a letter today.
He said he was coming to my house to play.

But what if he's scary and won't go away?
What if the monster decides to STAY?

But a scary monster wouldn't write -
He'd come and scare me late at night.
This monster chap is so polite,
He might not even scratch or bite.

I wonder if he's green or blue,
And if his teeth are poking through.
There's only one thing left to do:
I'll have to write a letter too.


A Monster Wrote Me a Letter revisits the familiar premise of a child-monster friendship, but with the refreshing twist of telling the story from both the child and monster's perspectives. Written in a mixture of rhyming couplets and quatrains, the first-person narratives trace how the boy accidentally receives a letter from the monster who actually intended the letter for his cousin who lives under the boy's bed. What ensues is a comical flurry of preparation on the part of both characters: the boy tries to up the yuck-factor in his house while his little sister watches with glee, and the monster tames his hair and pays attention to hygiene in an effort to make himself more presentable as a houseguest.

     With its reassuringly soft black and white pencil and charcoal illustrations, Bland, both the author and illustrator of this softcover book, achieves a gentle humour and irony in the interplay between text and illustration. As each of the characters tries to accommodate to the other's lifestyle, they end up being all the more surprised by how they fit in with each other by not changing that much at all. The rounded, cartoonish figures capture the exaggerated movements and facial expressions both of boy and monster with equal energy and sweetness, as the boy teaches the monster how to use a telephone, and the monster teaches the boy how to creep and crawl. Another striking feature of the illustrations as they work with the text is that one object in any given spread exists in colour, usually an item emphasized in the verse, and by the end of the tale, all these colours comprise a quilt that the children sleep under. This feature will no doubt entertain young children in identifying objects, such as a yellow rubber ducky or the monster's brown shoes, hence involving them in the telling of the tale.

internal art      In combination with the story's jaunty rhyme, vivid imagery (the boy's preparations for the monster include finding "codfish heads or lizard feet" as well as priming his bathtub with piranhas), the pleasing synthesis of picture and poem make Nick Bland's book one that will no doubt be requested again and again by its young audience.


Ellen Wu is a student in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature program at Hollins University, in Roanoke, VA.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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